Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Hunting hound treatment was misrepresented

I would like to reply to some of the assertions made by Alana Stevenson in her letter to the editor in the March 4 Addison Independent (“Hound hunting for the few at expense of many”). I am not a hound hunter. I am, however, a game warden retired from a Western state and who has had considerable contact with hounds and hound hunters.
I can’t really address the problems of hound hunting and private land, as we had large expanses of U.S. Forest Service land and most hound hunting was done thereon. Vermont is different with the land largely being in private ownership. Although I did have a hound hunter happen to chase a bear onto my property and he came and asked permission to shoot it before doing so.
Ms. Stevenson has some patently false claims about hounds and their training. Most trailing dogs are docile. Yes, they pursue game but mostly a stranger can pet them and I often have. Ms. Stevenson’s claim of training as “legalized dog fighting,” with “hound hunters purposely send(ing) their dogs out to be injured or eviscerated” is rubbish. Hounds are not cheap and a well-trained dog is valuable. No hunter is going to submit his or her dogs to such treatment. And also rubbish is “(t)they egg them on to fight.” The last thing a hunter wants in his trailing pack is a fighter. The hunter wants and has to have a cooperative group of dogs. All Ms. Stevenson’s blather about punching, kicking, starving, shooting and no vet care for hounds is purely her supposition with any stated factual basis. Of course there are slob hound hunters as there are slob general pet owners. However, hound hunters use their dogs for a specific purpose and a mistreated or injured dog is not one that is going to work for one.
I can’t tell you about the value of hound hunting in the conservation realm in Vermont, but hound hunting had benefits in my former state. Most of our hound hunting was for bears and cats, both mountain lions and bobcats. No one chased coyotes. On several occasions I used a hound hunter to find a problem lion. Mountain lions aren’t a problem in this state but some Western states that banned hound hunting had increased human attacks as the cats lost their fear of humans. Nuisance bears are probably the only species that hound hunters would encounter, and the bears are usually controlled by trapping them. I would defer to the Vermont game wardens for any use for hound hunters in their work.
I don’t “have a dog in this fight,” but let’s have some truth.
Wayne L. Weseman
Orwell

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